“HELLO. PRESS A BLUE KEY.”
This is a Tech Tuesday flashback! Do any of you remember Texas Instruments electronic handheld educational toys? My husband recently spent some time going through his parent’s basement and he came across the Texas Instruments Speak & Music toy. He thinks it’s about 25 years old and it still works! This version of the famous Speak and Spell line of toys features a speech synthesizer and a piano keyboard rather than a typing keyboard. The “robot” voice really cracks me up as it used to be seen as so cutting edge! The Speak and Music features musical audio games allowing free-form and memory-based game play (echo, rhythm, musical words). It also plays 12 pre-programmed songs. One of Teagan’s favorite rides at Disneyland is It’s A Small World. The theme song from the ride is one of the first songs on the toy. What a small world! 😉 This toy also has the ability to record music that you create. Very cool features for such simple technology. Wow! Electronic toys have come a long way since then! These days toys are so much more sophisticated than their ancestors but are not built with the same quality. I could not believe the Speak & Music still works! He also found a Speak and Math but that did not work. These devices are actually quite popular with electronic music and musicians. People are able to “hack” into the circuitry of the systems and do “Circuit Bending”. The process of circuit-bending involves taking cheaply available electronic sound making toys and adding extra wires, knobs and switches to make new connections between parts of the internal circuitry and chips. Check out some music created with these “hacked” toys (http://www.datamath.org/Story/CircuitBending.htm). Teagan actually loves the Speak & Music and has no idea that’s it so old. It’s educational and still fun to play with!
What about you? Do you have any ancient/retro electronic toys or gaming systems that are still functional and are in use by your family?
— Tee & Sean